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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl On His Way To U.S. Now; Undocumented Children Flood U.S. Border; Man Who Toppled Cantor Talks To CNN; Skydiving George H.W. Bush "Loves The Adrenaline"
Aired June 12, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news at this very instant, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl on his way back to America.
Plus more breaking news, terror in Iraq. Militants taking over major cities, headed toward Baghdad tonight. Americans being evacuated at this hour.
And George Bush taking another birthday plunge. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett on OUTFRONT tonight. We begin with the breaking news, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl going to be back on American soil in just a few hours, en route at this instant. He is currently in the air being flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. That's where he'll continue treatment following nearly five years in captivity with the Taliban.
Tonight, we're also learning new information about Bergdahl's time as a prisoner and why he may have left his platoon in the first place. "The Daily Beast" has obtained letters that are believed to be from Bergdahl sent to his parents while he was being held. In a moment, we're going to talk to "The Daily Beast" Kimberly Dozier. She is the one who got these letters from sources in contact with the Taliban. She is going to tell us exactly what they say.
First, though, we begin our coverage with Barbara Starr OUTFRONT live at the Pentagon. Barbara, what have you learned about when Bergdahl is expected to return to the U.S., the treatment that is going to await him, which I suppose could begin literally in a few hours?
STARR: That's right, Erin. Good evening. All indications are if he will land in San Antonio in the next five to six hours. He left Landstuhl in Germany earlier today. Once he gets there, the treatment he has been undergoing, the so-called repatriation will continue. What we are told is it will begin to focus more and more on a few central issues. His medical, his health care, that will continue, of course.
But also there will be psychological support as he moves closer to being reintegrated with his family and friends. Psychological support, there will be some debriefings, not just for intelligence gathering, but of course, they want to talk to him about what happened, what led him to leave the base that night, where he believes he was taken, what were his interactions with the Taliban might have been.
Any intelligence, any information they can gather, but also very clearly what happened to him, what did he do? Underline all of this, though, is ultimately reunion with his family. The family support issues, you know, he hasn't seen any of them in so long. How to reintegrate, how to get reacquainted with your family and friends.
BURNETT: Barbara, do you know if he has even spoken to his parents? Obviously, he hasn't seen them yet, but will he see them as soon as he lands, or is that still in the future?
STARR: We don't know and we don't know whether they have spoken by phone. We do not believe so. The military has said it does not believe so. There may have been some very private communications. We just simply don't know. The family typically is expected to be at the first place back in the United States that is the typical procedure. But nothing is really ever set in stone.
We're told when everybody is most comfortable with it, there will be a family reunion of some sort, at some point. We don't know when. It could be at the hospital. And we've seen with hostages in the past those initial family meetings can be quite overwhelming. They may only last a few minutes for the first time.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Barbara Starr. And we have someone who just had spent years in captivity going to speak to us what that was like when he first met his family. He is with me now along with Kimberly Dozier, who as we said is "The Daily Beast" reporter who obtained those letters that he wrote to his family. Roy Hallums is an American contractor who was kidnapped in Iraq and spent nearly a year in captivity. Kimberly, let's start with those letters. What was in them?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE DAILY BEAST: Well, there were two. One sent in 2012, and one in 2013, they are in some cases the first one is pretty rambling. It talks at first about that he is being fed, he is getting water, and then some parts of it are blocked out, presumably by the Taliban. And then it goes off into a long strange diatribe about god and nature. You kind of got to wonder was he just taking advantage of this chance he had to write, and writing as long as he could after so long in isolation when he was in captivity, and then he got this brief moment.
The second letter, however, he is aware of the investigation into him and why he walked off the base and he urges his parents to tell those in D.C. not to judge him until all of the evidence is in. He says that the conditions on his base were not safe. He complains about the orders he was given and said that both the U.S. and the Afghan troops were facing risks to their lives by leaders that didn't seem to understand the situation on the ground.
BURNETT: So it sounds like from what you're saying, Kim, even in these letters, which he wrote in the midst of what appears to have been a horrific captivity in many ways. That he was aware, that he was going to be judged and was responding to that, was defending himself. That's pretty significant in and of itself. He understood the magnitude of what now people are saying.
DOZIER: It is and yet I've got to play devil's advocate. These were letters written under duress. We don't know. Was the Taliban saying to him this is what you have to write? The handwriting in the letters is different. But U.S. officials tell me that they did show these to the Bergdahl family, and the family saw enough in them that only Bowe would have known to write that they really do think they came from him. But we're really going have to wait to hear from him to find out what were you thinking when you wrote this down.
BURNETT: Roy, when you were captivity, because Kimberly just said I want to play devil's advocate, let me be clear here, the Taliban could have been forcing him to write something. You were forced to write to your family when you were being held in Iraq for nearly a year. What were those moments like, first of all? Kim was referring to maybe Bowe Bergdahl, you know, this was his moment in the sunshine or his moment in the light where he is actually able to see and write. Was it like that for you?
ROY HALLUMS, AMERICAN HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAQ FOR 10 MONTHS: No. The gang totally has control of what you write. When I did mine, they just set a piece of paper in front of me and gave me a pen. And one person sat on each side of me and told me exactly what words to write. And they wanted me to print it and not write in script because they couldn't read English in Script. And to me, I'm assuming that he is in the same situation. And when you're held and they're controlling everything you do.
HALLUMS: In my case, they told me every single word to write down.
BURNETT: And Roy, when you were writing, was that a time, because I know you chained. You were kept in a very small space there was no light. Were you able allowed to come out when you wrote the letters, or did they go down in with you and basically shine just a flashlight?
HALLUMS: No, they came down the room, took me out, set me down on the concrete floor just above where I was, which was unusual, and they sat there and they told me we want you to write a letter, and we're going to tell you what to put in the letter.
BURNETT: Kim, when you hear that, what about what Roy said on the handwriting. Is that something that might make sense, that the handwriting would be different because they would force to write in all block capitals versus normal handwriting or something like that.
DOZIER: Maybe that explains why the first letter was in a sort of cursive. It was very flowery and the second was written in block print. And it was the second letter that referred to the investigation. And it also talked about these allegedly dangerous conditions at Bowe's base and his disagreement with those commanding him. Maybe that's a message that the Taliban wanted out there as a form of propaganda, anti-American propaganda. What is going to be interesting for all of us is to eventually hear him speak for himself. Now, the Pentagon tells us that that could take days, weeks, months, before he chooses to tell his own story.
BURNETT: And Roy, what about you? What can you weigh in on that? You just heard Barbara Starr say we don't know at this point when he is going to meet his family, and that first meeting can be incredibly emotional and frankly too difficult for a lot of people to have last more than a few moments. When you came back, how long did it take before you were ready to see your family, and what kind of treatment did you go through to be ready for that moment?
HALLUMS: Well, I came directly back. A day and a half after I was rescued, I was back in Memphis, and when I walked off the plane, the FBI had a separate room at the airport, and my family was there. So I walked off the plane and sat down and was with my family for maybe 20 minutes at the airport. And we drove back to my home. And I was with them for the rest of my time. So I was glad to see them and happy to be around friendly faces.
BURNETT: Kimberly, was there anything from the letter that stood out to you that you would want to read?
DOZIER: It's actually kind of hard to read the letters in terms of their grammar, their spelling is a little off. I also don't have a copyright with me. But they do talk about troopers being at risk. And they say a couple of different times wait for all the evidence to come in before judging me. And, you know, that's the one thing that Bowe Bergdahl and the Pentagon seem to agree on. They all want this investigation to play out after Bowe Bergdahl's debriefing and recovery ends.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much, Kim, Roy. Thanks to both you have for joining us.
And still OUTFRONT, hundreds of undocumented children attempting to enter the U.S. every day. We're going to take you on a ride along with border patrol for a firsthand account of what's going on.
Plus former President George W. Bush celebrates his 90th birthday falling from the sky.
And the music video that everyone is talking about, a behind the scenes look at how he pulled it off.
BURNETT: Now to a story dominating headlines, the influx of undocumented children, mostly from Central America, attempting to cross the southern border into the United States. Holding centers are at capacity, which has forced the government to open makeshift facilities, and the problem isn't going away. Sixty thousand children as young as 4 are expected to cross into the United States this year. Our Martin Savidge is in McAllen, Texas, where he got a firsthand look.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 104 in the shade in South Texas, and I'm on the trail of the latest illegal tide crossing from Mexico. The footprints give you a clue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see some of these are a lot smaller than us. So it's either going to be females or kids.
SAVIDGE: So do the life jackets littering the banks of the Rio Grande.
(on camera): They look pretty small.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a little pair of pants right here, which obviously belongs to a child.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Never before say veteran agents have they seen so many unaccompanied children illegally crossing the border by the hundreds, daily.
CHRIS CABRERA, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: I've seen them personally as young as 4. I've heard of them out there as young as 2.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Four years old unaccompanied?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Back in the sweltering heat with a U.S. border patrol agent who doesn't want to be identified for security reasons. We catch up to what may be the source of the footprints.
(on camera): So what it looks like here is maybe a family unit, certainly juveniles amongst them, maybe some adults. We're going to come back here and they'll be loaded inside. From what we understand, they're from Honduras. Many of the children are really young.
(voice-over): The adults may be related to the children or maybe only be traveling with them. It's part of the puzzle agents have to solve. U.S. border protection system was designed mainly to handle adults. Local agents say it was never meant to be a detention day care. These images leaked by a Texas congressman's office show massive overcrowding in just one border patrol station. In the closed quarters, illnesses like measles, chicken pox and scabies can easily spread. Local agents say because they are so overwhelmed, they know the drug cartels are benefitting.
CABRERA: There is drugs coming in. There is criminals coming in and we're tied up with baby-sitting duties.
SAVIDGE: The border is a dangerous place where heavily armed U.S. and state law enforcement officers are on constant alert, as we witnessed.
(on camera): Anybody in the water approaching a craft like this, it ramps up nerves.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Authorities believe this jet skier is really a cartel scout, just one more example of the risk children run on their long journey north.
(on camera): Do you think kids die on the trail? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know they do.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): He is not just an agent. Like many doing his difficult job, they are parents with kids of their own.
(on camera): So which part of you when you find a 4-year-old or you find a 6-year-old interacts? It is the father side of you or the professional law enforcement side?
CABRERA: It's a little bit of both, you know. You got to be a professional law enforcement at all times because you never know what is going to happen. But at the same time you're a father. You're a human being, and you have to make sure that kid's OK. You have to comfort them.
BURNETT: Now Martin, that's just incredible report. Republicans, though, slamming the president, saying he is to blame for this. I'm not really sure of the logic there. Others say these kids are trying to escape violence in their home countries, you mentioned Honduras. What are the children telling the border patrol agents?
SAVIDGE: Yes, the border patrol agents say that the kids when they talk to them say something much more basic, which is they want to be with their mother and father that would imply of course that their mother and father is already here in the United States, and probably came here illegally as well. And that this is a family that is just trying to reunite. So it's really the heart strings that are doing all of this.
BURNETT: It is, but if that's the truth, why the surge now?
SAVIDGE: Well, there are a lot of reasons for that. One of them is that it appears at least the border agents believe that there is some kind of message that is circulating by word of mouth or rumor in Central America that now is the time to go to America. They also say that because we do not immediately return people from Central America, that that sort of encourages that kind of thinking. But I also pointed out to them, well, you're going to return a 6-year-old? It did give them pause. Anything regarding kids here, it is a whole different ball game and that's what they're just now starting to understand.
BURNETT: Really, really tough situation. Martin Savidge, thank you very much.
And now the biggest political upset of the year, the economics professor who toppled the House majority leader finds himself thrust into the spotlight. Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The college professor who took down the House majority leader is choosing his words very carefully. Here he is leaving his home in the Richmond, Virginia area today, dancing around the topic of immigration in this Q&A on the run with CNN.
DAVE BRAT (R), HOUSE CANDIDATE, VIRGINIA: I don't want to do too much on policy right now. I'm just -- the first thing we need to do, we have a disaster on the border right now, humanitarian disaster with kids. And so we need to close down the border and I'll just leave it at that for right now.
JOHNS: It looks like his biggest problem right now is handling all the attention. Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner's office were calling, but a Washington source said they couldn't get through because his voicemail was full. The state GOP is pledging to give him and his three-person staff some badly needed help, including additional people and resources for the coming election.
Meanwhile, on the nearby campus of Randolph-Macon College where Brat and his Democratic opponent in the fall, Jack Trammel are both professors, students and faculty are hoping to hold a debate here between the nominees. Students we talked to are still coming to grips with their college suddenly the talk of the nation, and their economics professor staging the biggest political upset of the year.
ANGELINA SPORTELLI, STUDENT, RANDOLPH-MACON COLLEGE: I was amazed, shocked, excited.
JOHNS: With strong feelings for both professors.
MIKHAILA CAUCE, STUDENT, RANDOLPH-MACON COLLEGE: He is not hypocritical. He believes in what he believes in.
DEREK DITTMAR, STUDENT, RANDOLPH-MACON COLLEGE: Dr. Trammel is probably the reason I'm here.
JOHNS: And more than a little amusement about the celebrity this has brought to Brat, including the rating he got on the ratemyprofessors.com web site with a chili pepper for being hot.
SPORTELLI: I think his rating was a 3.4. I saw that last night on the news and personally, I think that's a little low.
JOHNS: Randolph-Macon College will soon see whether campus collegiality can overcome big money and negative political influences in a high profile congressional race. Joe Johns, CNN, Ashland, Virginia.
BURNETT: Still to come, violence raging in Iraq tonight. A group too extreme for al Qaeda seizing major cities. Is this a sign of major failure in the American policy in Iraq?
And some people blow out candles on their birthday, but not George H.W. Bush.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Former President George H.W. Bush pulled off an impressive feat today, marking his 90th birthday with a parachute jump. That's pretty incredible. You've heard he had recent health issues, but wow. Tom Foreman has details.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ninety years in and more than 6,000 feet up, the former president jumped at a chance for a birthday free fall, tweeting it's a wonderful day in Maine. In fact, nice enough for a parachute jump. His granddaughter, Jenna, knew what was up and coming down.
JENNA BUSH HAGER, GRANDDAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We all thought the plan was a bit ambitious, but we're all thrilled, even my grandmother, that he is following through with that plan today.
FOREMAN: Strapped to a member of the all veteran parachute team, the 41st president rode it out like a pro and little wonder. His first jump came when his plane was shot down over the ocean in World War II. He jumped again on his 75th birthday, his 80th, and his 85th as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is my hero?
FOREMAN: Greeted on land by his whole famous family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't worried the least bit. Happy birthday! I think it's awesome 85-year-old guy is jumping out of airplanes on his birthday.
FOREMAN: The former president is also enjoying soaring popularity. A CNN/ORC poll shows 58 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of him. That beats both his son, George W. Bush and President Obama, but falls below his successor, Bill Clinton. On this birthday, however, it was all politics aside. Maybe his landing out with not poetry in motion, but the 90-year-old president clearly enjoyed some down to earth fun.
BURNETT: That landing looks terrifying to me. I can't believe he was able to do this. We heard he had issues with his health. How is he doing? It is incredible he did this.
FOREMAN: Well, it is incredible because he is not in good health. Comparatively it's better than a year and a half ago. He spent seven weeks in the hospital. He has Parkinson's disease. He gets around in the wheelchair all the time now. He has trouble speaking. A lot of different reasons that a lot of many different people would have said don't do this, but he wanted to. He said he was going to. He followed it through. And Erin, he came out of that landing fully intact there, well, good for him. That's a difficult feat.
BURNETT: It's incredible. All right, Tom foreman, thank you very much. Stunning. And this Sunday, Father's Day, be sure to catch "41 on 41." Forty one American notables come together to bring you a unique portrait of George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. That's Sunday at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.
Still to come, chaos in Iraq, Islamic militants are seizing multiple cities. It was trillions of dollars the United States spent. The president with great fanfare said he is taking the troops out. Is he going to have to go back in?
Plus, the man behind the attacks. What we're just learning about the leader some say is the next Osama Bin Laden.
And the internet's newest star talks to CNN. He tells us how he was able to pull off this video.
BURNETT: Breaking news in Iraq. Chaos tonight, a terrorist group that seized major cities in the country is making its way to Baghdad.
American contractors are being evacuated right now from a military base in Balad. That's about 55 miles north of the capital city.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is asking the United States for help and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it's called ISIS, is gaining ground. Among requests, airstrikes from the American military.
President Obama actually says it's under consideration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's fair the say that in our consultations with the Iraqis, there will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily. And, you know, our national security team is looking at all the options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All the option. Well, so far the al Qaeda spin-off group has taken control of the country's second largest city of Mosul, also launching major attacks in three other cities. ISIS already has partial or complete control, as you can see on this map, of more than three dozen smaller cities across Iraq and also neighboring Syria.
The goal is to create an Islamic state across the Sunni areas of both countries.
Arwa Damon is in Erbil, in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, tonight.
And, Arwa, what are things like on the ground? ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPNDENT: Well, we just
spent the bulk of the day at one of the border crossings that is on the main road from Mosul, leading into Iraqi Kurdistan that is considered to be a safe haven for all of those people trying to flee the violence in Mosul.
Many of them, though, interestingly, Erin, that we're fleeing today, saying it wasn't because of ISIS. They actually describe life under ISIS as being fine. They said that, yes, there were gunmen roaming the streets. They didn't know who they were, but there was running water. They were being provided with fuel. It just goes to show you what the impact of over a decade of war has done to people's psyche.
But they said they were fleeing because of fear of retaliation by the Iraqi security forces, bombardment by them. At the same time, Erin, some people deciding to go back to Mosul, not wanting to live as refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan, saying as long as ISIS wasn't conducting mass executions, they would prefer to go back home.
Underlying all of this is the country's Sunni and Shia tensions. These areas that ISIS has managed to take over are all predominantly Sunni, and the population, although not necessarily wanting to live under an Islamic caliphate, has for years now been feeling as if the predominantly Shia-led government has been alienating and has also been deliberately targeting it.
Why has ISIS been able to gain so much territory in Iraq so quickly? Well, that may be the group that is in the spotlight right now. But there has also been a reemergence of number of other insurgent groups that were very prominent during the U.S. occupation of Iraq as well not necessarily directly joining in the fight, wanting the same things as ISIS, but still standing their ground in a battle against the Shia government.
This very much taking on sectarian overtones. A lot of people voicing great concerns that it could be yet another chapter in Iraq's bloodshed. A civil war re-ignited in a country that has already suffered so much, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Arwa, thank you very much. And President Obama met today with his national security team to talk about the deteriorating situation. But, you know, the president of course ran as the anti-war candidate. And wanted to be celebrated for what he called ending the war in Iraq.
Now, of course, he is faced with one of the toughest decisions of his presidency.
Michelle Kosinski reports from the White House.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama has to confront the situation in Iraq now. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My team is working
around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them. I don't rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.
KOSINSKI: Vice President Biden called Iraq's prime minister today, telling him the U.S. is prepared to accelerate and intensify support. But the administration also said over and over again --
OBAMA: We're not going to be able to be everywhere all the time.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We cannot be everywhere at all times.
KOSINSKI: In a war weary America, this has been the sort of doctrine.
OBAMA: Some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.
KOSINSKI: There's a question after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, has the U.S. overcorrected?
Hillary Clinton addressed that today.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It's often the case that we overlearn lessons and underlearn some lessons. One of the lessons that the president took, which is certainly supported by the American people, is that our foreign policy cannot be defined principally by military means and by our defense budget.
KOSINSKI: Now that Syria's violence devastates it and the spillover extremist aiming for Iraq's capital, yes, there is some harsh criticism.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The president should get rid of his entire national security team.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's not like we haven't seen this problem coming for over a year. And what is the president doing? Taking a nap.
KOSINSKI: It's almost incredible what we're seeing right now, and to know that some kind of additional American action is now imminent. We do know, though, that among those options that are being discussed, boots on the ground is not one of them.
There are multiple things that are being talked about among the president's national security team. This is another tough position for the president. You look at the questions surrounding it. How would American
airstrikes affect the region? Has the U.S. already missed the best timing to do that if it is going to do that? And will America just once again immediately become the bigger enemy for all of these groups?
As one Democratic senator put it today, there are options being carefully looked at, but none of them are good options -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Michelle, thank you very much.
Joining me now is retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor. He served as the executive director to General David Petraeus during the troop surge in Iraq. Colonel Mansoor served in the U.S. Army for 26 years including two tours of duty in Iraq.
Good to have you with us, sir.
This is a really bizarre moment. And today, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, obviously, the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was not a mistake.
Do you agree?
COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Oh, I think absolutely it was a mistake. American forces were the glue that was holding Iraq together. They were a break on the more sectarian instincts of Nouri al Maliki. They gave us leverage against him. They were the stiffener that gave backbone to the Iraqi security forces. And removing them has led directly to what we see today.
BURNETT: Now, of course, the president's logic at the time was, look, it's been a decade. We can't stay forever. The United States, you know, can't hold a country together. Iraq has to be ready to have democracy and stand on its own.
I mean, ultimately, wasn't that a decision that had to be made? I mean, trillions of dollars had been spent. It was continual, hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and things weren't getting better.
MANSOOR: You know, I sat in on the margins of the national security meetings when George Bush was president. And he used to say that Iraq and the future needs to look like South Korea.
If you look at South Korea today, it's a vibrant democracy with a great economy, but U.S. forces are still there 60-plus years after the end of the Korean War. That's what he was talking about.
And if U.S. forces were in Iraq in substantial numbers today, 15,000 or so, we wouldn't have ISIS in control of a third of the country.
BURNETT: You think that would have been enough, 15,000?
MANSOOR: I think so, 15,000 to 20,000 would have been sufficient numbers to have combat capability, advisers to the Iraqi security forces, intelligence operators, and an Air Force presence as well.
BURNETT: So, was the United States caught off guard or not? Obviously, we've all been here hearing about these groups, the sectarian violence and rise of al Qaeda-linked groups in Iraq for a long time. But John Boehner was very aggressive in what he said, saying we've all seen this coming for a year. Really? We've all seen this coming?
MANSOOR: I don't think anyone saw this sort of blitzkrieg-style conventional assault coming. If they had, I think we would have heard about it from the administration or from the Iraqis. So, this was obviously a very well-planned attack. And ISIS has some good strategists on their side. And they have executed this campaign marvelously well from their standpoint.
BURNETT: So, the president says boots on the ground are not on the table. Airstrikes perhaps. But boots on the ground not. Is that realistic?
MANSOOR: Well, how do you launch airstrikes if you don't know what you're targeting? There is no forward air controllers that can talk to U.S. pilots in the Iraqi army. You're going to need some boots on the ground to help the Iraqis with the targeting process. So, I don't see how air power minus some people on the ground is going to work at all.
But I think the deeper question is should we do this in the first place. We will be taking sides in a nascent civil war. And until the Iraqi government mends its ways and Nouri al Maliki is no longer prime minister and there is a unity government, this is just going to add fuel to the fire.
BURNETT: And it is possible at this point for the United States, let's just say they did want to add that fuel. But if the United States now is to intervene in Iraq, given this group's link to Syria, given that border, does that mean that the United States by definition is boots on to the ground in Syria?
MANSOOR: Not in Syria. I think you can separate the two even though they're linked. But you can fight ISIS in Iraq without crossing the border, or you could attack their strongholds on the border region in Syria.
And look, you know, we're going to have to eventually deal with this ISIS stronghold. We cannot allow a permanent terrorist presence in the heart of Mesopotamia. It would be devastating to the world oil markets. It would be a terrorist base from which they could launch attacks at Europe and the United States.
But I don't think we should rush into a military option when the politics aren't settled yet.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Colonel. Appreciate your time tonight.
Pretty sobering words. Still to come, who is responsible for the growing violence in
Iraq? Well, there is a man at the helm here. You just heard the colonel talk about the marvelously planned assault, pretty incredible word to use. Who is he? People are calling him the next bin Laden.
And then, we're going to take you to the World Cup in Brazil. Our CNN colleagues injured today president seriously during the violent protests.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Breaking news tonight: Iraq under siege. A major terror group, the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS has already taken control of the second biggest city Mosul, threatening to take Baghdad.
We are just learning at this moment that the State Department has plans for a possible drawdown or evacuation of American personnel from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which is the largest embassy the U.S. has around the world. No decision to evacuate yet. But those plans are now being put into place.
This group is so extreme that even al Qaeda has distanced itself. "TIME" magazine calls the group's leader the world's most dangerous man. Others have said he is the next bin Laden. So who is he?
Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one seems to know exactly where he is, but in just four years, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi has created a strike force of jihadi militants fixated on creating a far-reaching Islamic state, also known as a caliphate, governed by strict Sharia law.
RICHARD BARRETT: This area that they want to control is not only Iraq, Syria, but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Kuwait.
FEYERICK: Richard Barrett is formally with British intelligence.
(on camera): What changes are being seen in terms of Sharia law when it comes to children, women, the courts?
BARRETT: They're looking back to the Koran, of course, the Hadith, the sayings with prophet and all this, to try and understand, you know, what is the fundamental law of Islam? Well, you know, that may be at applicable, at the time of the prophet. Women are going to be very much oppressed.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is in his early 40s, claims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
BARRETT: That resonates hugely in the Muslim world. FEYERICK: Born near Baghdad, al-Baghdadi attended university
there, and apparently earned a PhD in Islamic studies before joining al Qaeda in Iraq, fighting with ruthless terrorist Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, known to behead his victim.
Al-Baghdadi was captured and spent four years in a U.S. prison camp in Iraq, where he met and recruited fellow insurgents. He was released in 2009. It is believed he could have as many as 12,000 core fighters, with several thousand from Western countries.
AARON ZELIN, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: They're coming from U.S., Canada, France, Britain, Germany.
FEYERICK: The threat to those countries a great concern to security experts. The terrorists who recently opened fire on Belgium's Jewish museum is thought to have spent time fighting under al-Baghdadi.
BARRETT: He'd been year I believe with ISIS, and there is a significant period to get thoroughly radicalized, but also quite proficient in terrorism.
FEYERICK: Making al-Baghdadi even more lethal, his group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has not only challenged al Qaeda's authority but could make it its current leader.
(on camera): Is it fair to say that bin Laden's number two person who's now number one in al Qaeda is effectively irrelevant?
BARRETT: I think he'd been sidelined by this. Yes, he won't see it that way. He still see this as a battle for, if you like, the hearts and minds of the extremists.
BURNETT: Where is he going to get 12,000 fighters? And as you said, about a quarter of them come from the United States. I mean, if -- I mean, where is the money coming from?
FEYERICK: And a quarter of them come from all Western countries, the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and France. But what's fascinating is the recent takeover of Mosul. He robbed the banks. He's got hundreds of millions of dollars now in cash, also gold. He has access to the Syrian pipeline, so he's got enough money to fund these operations.
More importantly, when he goes into these towns, he doesn't leave a vacuum. When he does -- if he makes all the locals swear allegiance to him, and then, he says, good, here is your money, and there is no vacuum. So, the insurgents, they take over and the people who are there simply change allegiance.
BURNETT: Right, and they get money and services, as Arwa said, and you get loyalty in a war-torn land.
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Deb Feyerick. Pretty incredible.
Let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up in a few minutes in "AC360".
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.
First of all, we have much more on the breaking news out of Iraq, and also the return of Bowe Bergdahl to the U.S. ahead on "360".
We're also following the money to Capitol Hill and the nasty cycle of fundraising that candidates are forced to adhere to, even those running unopposed. The little known secrets, the higher position you hold the more money you're expected to raise. Drew Griffin investigates why no one has tried to stop the madness on the money front.
Also, ahead, you may not know this man, Frank DeAngelis but you probably know the school where he has been principal since 1995, Columbine High School. He retired this year after completing the promise he made there after the deadly shootings, in 1999. We'll tell you what that promise was and why he can now walk away.
It's all ahead at the top of the hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we'll see in just a few moments.
Well, the world's biggest sporting event of the year kicked off today. You might have already cost your employers some money by watching. In the first game of the World Cup, Brazil works its own home advantage, beating Croatia, 3-1. I thought Croatia was going to pull it out. It was a big game.
But as fans celebrate the big win, there are massive protests in the streets, demonstrators are furious, Brazil spent $11 billion getting ready to host the tournament. The country, of course, is in dire need of low income housing, hospital and schools, police cracking down. They fired tear gas just steps away from our CNN crew.
Shasta Darlington was there. She's OUTFRONT in Sao Paulo.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I'm standing in front of riot police. They are trying to keep protesters from coming over here. This is the main avenue, leading to the stadium. This is red line. And we found out earlier today what happens when you try to cross it.
Looks like protesters are starting to move. And there is some pushing back, as you can see, they may have -- got to go. Hit my arm!
We were hit by fragments of stun grenades, I got a little cut, not a big deal. Our producer Barbara did suffer a deeper gash. She is at home and she is OK. But we do expect these kinds of clashes between police and protesters will keep up throughout this month and all the games across the country, Erin.
BURNETT: Well, pretty incredible there, Shasta. Thank God she's safe.
But tonight on CNN, it was supposed to be a normal campaign trip to Dallas but on November 22nd, 1963, gunshots changed history. And for many decades, people have wondered did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn't America believe the Warren report?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the conspiracy theorists who have put this case under a high-powered microscope, splitting hairs. The Kennedy case is now the most complex murder case by far in world history. Nothing even remotely comes close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are left with the series of real and critical questions about the assassination. Questions which have not been answered to the satisfaction of the people of the United States.
DAVID CROSBY: When President Kennedy was killed, he was not killed by one man. He was shot from a number of different directions by different guns. The story has been suppressed. Witnesses have been killed. And this is your country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: "The Sixties", the assassination of President Kennedy, airs at 9:00 tonight.
And still to come, a man stuck in an airport shoots an epic video, and now, Celine Dion is responding. Jeanne Moos is next.
BURNETT: A man stuck in an airport all by himself, what he does next takes the Internet by storm. A lot of people wondered how in the heck he pulled it off.
Well, he shared the secret with Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stuck overnight at the Las Vegas Airport after volunteering to be bumped. What's a guy waiting for a 6:00 a.m. flight to do? What do you silently emote when you can emote?
MOOS: Richard Dunn is no longer all by himself. His music video, lip-synching to Celine Dion has millions of views. The airport was deserted between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. when he did most of the shooting.
RICHARD DUNN, MADE MUSIC VIDEO WHILE STRANDED AT AIRPORT: I had this empty movie set. I can do whatever I want with it.
MOOS: Boy, did he?
DUNN: Shoe shine share to behind the Delta ticket counter, with P.A. mike in hand.
(on camera): And you did a little hand-holding?
DUNN: Yes, I was lonely, Jeanne. I tell you what? It was breaking my heart.
MOOS (voice-over): As he sang along to the song playing on his iPad, Richard said the cleaning crew shot him dirty looks as if he were --
DUNN: Punching a puppy in the face.
MOOS: When he wanted a dully shoot, he taped his iPhone to a pole in the wheelchair and put the wheelchair on one of those moving sidewalks. And when he sang at the foot of the escalator, he taped the phone to the handle of his computer bag and sent the bag up the escalator.
DUNN: And then I looked up and like, holy crap, my bag is at the top.
He had to get off his knees and sprint to catch his homemade camera mount before it got toppled over by the escalator.
As you see in the out take from his music video.
Celine Dion herself finally responded.
CELINE DION, POP SINGER: Hi, Richard, I have to say the video was hilarious, please be my guest at my show. And, by the way, Richard, you're more than welcome to use my bathroom.
MOOS: No more crying outside the lady's room, there was one thing Richard didn't see.
DUNN: Jeanne, not one, not one security guard.
MOOS: His performance, presumably captured by surveillance cameras. Liquids are restricted as carry-on, but Richard sure carried on.
Don't worry, Celine, now that Richard, you wouldn't feel so --
(MUSIC) MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: It's fantastic and I just can't believe the airport was ever empty. That airport?
Anyway, thanks for watching. Anderson is next.